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Murray hopes Mauresmo split not seen as failure for women

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ROME (AP) Andy Murray hopes his split with Amelie Mauresmo isn’t seen as a failure for women coaching top players.

The British star improved as a clay-court player under Mauresmo but failed to add to his collection of Grand Slam titles.

“It did work. For two years the results that we had were good,” Murray said at the Italian Open on Tuesday, a day after the breakup was announced. “Maybe unless I win a Grand Slam, then maybe ultimately that’s how people may judge whether it worked or not, but when she first came into the team, I was really struggling.”

Murray became the first high-profile tennis player to hire a woman as a coach when he took on Mauresmo in June 2014. He won his first clay-court titles last year in Munich and Madrid.

Murray was asked if he thought the split would hurt the idea of women coaching men.

“When she came on board, my results actually really picked up,” Murray added. “I mean, for me, the time we spent together was positive. It’s just a shame I wasn’t able to win one of the major events, because that’s what both of us wanted.

“Roger (Federer) stopped working with Stefan Edberg at the end of last year because Stefan Edberg wanted to spend more time with his family. … No one sort of batted an eyelid about that,” Murray said.

Mauresmo said Monday that “dedicating enough time along with the travel has been a challenge for me.” The Frenchwoman gave birth to her first child in August and took six months off from coaching.

Murray has also been coached by his mother, Judy.

“So, in my opinion, it’s nothing to do with Amelie being a woman,” Murray added. “It’s the case of it takes a lot of time to do the job well and properly. It’s not easy to do that for four, five years in a row.”

With the French Open starting in 12 days, Murray doesn’t have an immediate replacement.

“I haven’t really thought too much about a new coach,” he said. “It’s something that I will speak to my team about over the next few weeks and try and find something that works. I want it to work long term, so I will take that into consideration as well.”

Having lost the Madrid Open final last Sunday to Novak Djokovic, Murray dropped to No. 3 in the rankings behind Federer. Federer and Murray have the same number of points but Federer has a better record in the big events.

Murray’s performance in Rome represents his only chance to regain the No. 2 ranking ahead of Roland Garros.

“It would be nice if I could get to 2 again,” Murray said. “But if not, then yeah, it’s not something I’m going into this week worrying too much about.”

After a first-round bye, Murray’s opening match at the Foro Italico will be against Kazakh qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin on Wednesday.

Last year, Murray lost in the third round while Federer lost the final to Djokovic.

Mattek-Sands upsets Svitolina at Miami Open

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Bethanie Mattek-Sands picked up her first top-10 victory since 2015, upsetting ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the Miami Open’s third round.

Mattek-Sands, who turned 32 on Thursday, is ranked only 158th in singles and needed a wild-card invitation to get into the hard-court tournament. She is ranked No. 1 in doubles.

Against Svitolina, Mattek-Sands saved 12 of the 15 break points she faced.

The woman with whom Mattek-Sands won the doubles championships at the past two Grand Slam tournaments, Lucie Safarova, eliminated 23rd-seeded Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday. Safarova, the 2015 French Open runner-up, is ranked 36th, so was just outside the seedings at the hard-court tournament. She broke Gavrilova five times while losing serve only once herself.

In another surprise, Kirsten Flipkens beat No. 29 Ana Konjuh 7-6 (4), 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Also, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, a finalist at last year’s U.S. Open, had no trouble beating 86th-ranked Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3 in about an hour to get to the third round.

Other seeded winners included No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki, No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 26 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, No. 27 Yulia Putintseva and No. 30 Zhang Shuai.

In men’s action, now things will get a little more challenging for Frances Tiafoe.

Tiafoe, a 19-year-old from Maryland, set up a second-round meeting against 18-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer by beating Konstantin Kravchuk 7-5, 5-7, 6-1.

Tiafoe hit 12 aces and accumulated 14 break points, converting five, on the 32-year-old Kravchuk’s serve. This was Tiafoe’s third career match victory at a Grand Slam or Masters event. Kravchuk, meanwhile, dropped to 0-7 overall this season.

Tiafoe is ranked 101st, Kravchuk 103rd. The level of competition will rise against the fourth-seeded – and former No. 1-ranked – Federer.

In other men’s first-round action, Horacio Zeballos came back to beat Gastao Elias 6-7 (2), 6-2, 7-5 and earn a matchup against top-seeded Stan Wawrinka next. Wawrinka lost to Federer in the final at Indian Wells, California, on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Adrian Mannarino defeated qualifier Benjamin Becker 7-6 (6), 6-3 and will next face No. 32 Paolo Lorenzi, Borna Coric edged Marcel Granollers 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3, and Tommy Robredo topped Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Safarova tops No. 23 Gavrilova at Miami Open; Pliskova wins

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Lucie Safarova eliminated 23rd-seeded Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to reach the third round of the Miami Open.

Safarova, the 2015 French Open runner-up, is ranked 36th, so was just outside the seedings at the hard-court tournament. She broke Gavrilova five times while losing serve only once herself.

In another early women’s match Thursday, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, a finalist at last year’s U.S. Open, had no trouble beating 86th-ranked Madison Brengle 6-1, 6-3 in about an hour to get to the third round.

In men’s first-round action, Adrian Mannarino defeated qualifier Benjamin Becker 7-6 (6), 6-3 and will next face No. 32 Paolo Lorenzi,